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Home Energy Costs: Going Green Can Save Some Green

The typical American household’s annual energy costs average $1,900, notes the U.S. Department of Energy. Inefficient energy practices, however, waste much of that money. Following a few simple and affordable tips on smart energy use can save significant money. It also fights air pollution by decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide a home’s energy expenditures release into the atmosphere.

Eliminate Drafts

Drafty homes are energy hogs. Drafts enter a structure around baseboards, electrical outlets and switch plates. They travel through fireplace dampers, kitchen range hoods and front-door mail slots. Damaged exterior mortar, siding or foundations invite outdoor air in. Finding and sealing drafts can mean monthly savings of as much as $50, states the DOE.

Change a Light Bulb

Incandescent light bulbs dating to the days of Thomas Edison use only 5 percent of their energy to light a home. They channel the other 95 percent into heat. A brightly lit room on a warm summer’s evening may be welcoming, but it means a higher cooling bill.

Exchanging compact fluorescent light bulbs for only five of a home’s incandescent ones can reduce the average $209 annual lighting bill by as much as $65. CFLs give off 75 percent less heat than incandescent bulbs, and burn up to 10 times as long. Less heat means lower cooling costs.

Dial Up Or Down

Heating and cooling costs account for 43 percent or about $68 per month of the typical home energy bill. Climate control also pumps nitric acid and sulphur dioxide, two chemicals in acid rain, into the atmosphere.

Lowering these costs and emissions begins with a thermostat set as high in warm weather and low in cold as health allows. Sweaters during waking hours and additional blankets at night compensate for a chilly winter house.

Switching to a digital thermostat and programming it so the furnace or air conditioner does minimal work when a home is unoccupied saves more money. Setting the thermostat timer so the heating or cooling kicks in to high gear at the right time means a comfortable temperature when the occupants return.

Opening blinds or drapes on windows with southern exposure fills rooms with warming winter sunshine. Closing them in summer keeps interiors cool.

Appliance and Electronics Replacement

Appliances and home electronics meeting the DOE’s energy-efficient standards earn the Energy Star label. Replacing worn-out models with Energy Star products boosts energy savings over the long term.

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